On Saturday, leaders from the ASEAN are gathering in Kuala Lumpur to discuss the establishment of a landmark ASEAN Community by year end, and map out a plan for its further development to 2025.
One of the highlights in Kuala Lumpur is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP.
It is a proposed collective free trade agreement between the 10 ASEAN member states and six countries with which ASEAN has individual FTAs, including China.
The RCEP deal is entering its final stage after three years of negotiations, and, if achieved, will be a catalyst for regional economic integration.
SOUNDBITE: NAJIB RAZAK, Malaysian Prime Minister
“The ASEAN Free Trade Area, or AFTA, has reduced tariffs to zero . This has reduced the prices of countless goods, and means our citizens have more money to spend on their families.And with further liberalization and integration come still greater prize: it is estimated that the measures we are implementing under the ASEAN Economic Community will raise overall GDP in ASEAN by seven percent by 2025.”
Statistics show China remains ASEAN’s biggest trading partner, while ASEAN is China’s third largest trading partner.
Bilateral trade in the first 10 months of this year reached nearly 400 billion U.S. dollars.